Another week in Clarens and the Classics Festival is thankfully behind us. Reminds me of the old chestnut: What if you gave a party and nobody came? Not strictly true of course. The few hundred paying guests probably had a high-old time but it was hardly what you would call a triumph. Pity really, but if you pick the quietest weekend of the year and keep the event a secret, you must take what you can get.
Much better news from the Bibliophile BookFest though. An excellent three-days laid an important foundation stone for future Clarens Arts Festivals and gave Clarenites a treat at several different venues. Robin Binckes, author of Canvas under the Sky (a tale of sex, drugs and volk spele in the Great Trek) and The Great Trek Uncut was very entertaining at the Sheepshed Gallery and the Phatt Chef. He was supported by inputs from Anne Marie du Preez Bezdrob (Winnie Mandela: A Life), Refiloe Mabejane (Strawberry Lips), Chris Maris and Julienne du Toit (Karoo Keepsakes 2), Lanny Mokwena (Radio Lesedi playwright), Stephen Gray (Bosman editor and poet) and Maya Kriel (Rings in a Tree). Stephen Gray also introduced the Sheepshed Gallery audience to the world of Herman Charles Bosman, together with Peter Badcock-Walters, designer and illustrator of the Illustrated Bosman, who discussed his illustrations and technique. Stephen also read his poems (Shelley Cinema) at 278 on Main.
All in all a solid second year – and much more to come next year apparently. Remarkable what you can do without a sponsor, but I suppose that Exclusive Books were too busy keeping the auditors at bay to honour their obligations to Clarens.
Having honoured my own obligations to this august publication last week by reviewing some early summer birding highlights, I have to report that the clutch of ten Ostrich chicks spotted over the nek, is down to five – and counting. Such is the way of Mother Nature of course: Jackals and poachers et al, and perhaps a rare but contagious neck infection, seek out only the fittest for survival. These little darlings are easily seen from the road so keep your eyes peeled, whatever that may mean.
In last week’s ornithological offering, I also warned that Kaalvoet was apparently abroad again. For those of unfamiliar with this immense and extraordinary creature, check out The Creature Wall in the Clarens Brewery. Variously named Big Foot, Pea Brain (due to his/her unfortunate habit of walking into trees) and Kaalvoet, this shaggy fellow/female appears to have stirred from his/her winter slumber and re-entered the world of man. Various reports have put his/her location anywhere from The Old Stone Bottle Store (Saturday evening break-in and consumptions of 37 bottles of beer, October 12, 2013) to the abseiling cliff used by Clarens Extreme (Tuesday morning, October 15, 2013), where he/she surprised a young lady relieving herself in the bushes.
I observe the ‘his/her’ rule of thumb in deference to the Gender Commission of South Africa, rather than make assumptions about the creature’s gender, due to the extensive camouflage of its dark brown body hair. The important thing of course is to keep your distance and avoid pointing camera’s at the creature, which has a reputation for gentleness but an overwhelming fondness for peanut butter sandwiches. Getting too close, particularly with a sandwich in your sticky little hand, could make for some hard choices. And with the doctor here only twice a week, that’s not something you want to test.